A lost basketball season

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Jason May: OMN Photographer

The Oregon State Men’s basketball team is seen locking arms during the national anthem against the University of Oregon on Jan 10 inside of Gill Coliseum. The Beavers finished the season 3-28 after making it to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament in the previous year.

Ryan Harlan, Sports Columnist

  Many questions keep me awake at night, such as, are we alone in the universe? What is the meaning of life? And what happened to the Oregon State Men’s Basketball Team after making the Elite Eight last year? I’ll do my best to answer that last question for you.

  So how did we get to the worst season in Oregon State Men’s Basketball history?

  Before the start of the season, it wasn’t out of the question that we would see a similar performance to last year’s run in the NCAA March Madness Tournament. However, as the season progressed it became one to forget, highlighted by two double-digit losing streaks, culminating in a 3-28 season.

  I think the blame resides with both the players and coaches for the shortcomings this season. Sure, you can blame Head Coach Wayne Tinkle, which is the easiest to do because he’s the head coach, and it’s his job to bring this team together regardless of personnel. However, after a certain point, the players also must buy into the culture that Tinkle and the coaching staff have set at Oregon State.  

  The culture that had been built by the coaching staff over the past seven years during Tinkle’s tenure was noticeably absent this year. What makes teams successful is having players play together as a team and be selfless; this includes teams that Tinkle has coached in the past. However, this team did not show any signs of that this year, which led to a lot of struggles in the season most notably when closing out games with a lead against University of California, Davis.

  There also wasn’t a true leader on the team, unlike last year with Ethan Thompson and Zach Reichle filling those roles on the team during the Elite Eight run. However, if you gave me the roster this year I couldn’t point to a single player as being a leader on this team. The losses of Thompson and Reichle in the offseason, and then Gianni Hunt mid-season also proved to be big losses for the team, which ultimately led to a leadership vacuum.

  When the team started to struggle, some players did step up but I don’t know if their messages got across in the locker room—that talent alone wasn’t going to win games. Talent only gets players so far. If you can’t play together as a team halfway through the season, then there’s a problem and the coaches can only do so much to remedy the situation on their end.

  I think it’s a result of losing so much during the season, but you’d think they’d pull together while facing adversity. I’m not knocking a lack of effort from the team by any means, as they fought to the end in games such as the double overtime-loss to University of Southern California. A loss, yes but a moral victory for the team.  

  However, moral victories don’t cure everything that ails a team, which is true. When you consider what the team went through with injuries, COVID-19 and departures of players mid-season, it’s all you can expect from the team, which is still reeling from these issues on top of losing games during the season.

  The season ended with a whimper in a first-round exit in the PAC-12 Tournament and has not won a game so far in 2022. We’ll see a new team with new players take the court next season. Tinkle will be back next year, much to the dismay of people wanting him fired and criticizing the contract extension. I will say this, it would’ve been unprecedented if he did not get a new contract after last year and since the contract was new, there was no way that he would have been let go either.

  I digress; I do think this season appears to be a one-off and that this historically-bad performance won’t repeat itself next year. However, out of the players that can return next season, I don’t know who will stay after a season like this one.

  There is one thing to expect this offseason and that is a lot of transfers as well as departures this year, as  key players from last year’s Elite Eight run might also be gone. We will just have to wait and see if the Beavers right the ship and get their first win of 2022 at the start of next season. If not, I expect more changes to come next year, and hopefully more wins than this season.